My third stop on Saturday’s Open Days tour was probably the best known of the bunch, and one I’ve visited previously on the Wildflower Center’s 2010 Gardens on Tour. It’s the personal garden of landscape architect Christine Ten Eyck, which has appeared in the book Tomorrow’s Garden and Martha Stewart Living magazine, among other publications. It also happens to be just half a block’s walk from the Tocquigny garden, my previous stop on the tour, in West Austin’s Tarrytown neighborhood.
The front garden occupies a large lot that slopes toward the street. When Ten Eyck moved in (the house formerly belonged to well-known artist Julie Speed), a circular driveway took up most of the front yard, and rainwater would sheet off the St. Augustine lawn down to the street. A 6-foot-tall stone wall along the street provided privacy but cut off the house from the neighborhood.
Ten Eyck removed both the driveway and the wall. She used limestone excavated from the back garden to build semicircular shallow retaining walls across the front yard, creating numerous small terraces for planting understory trees like Mexican plum, grasses, woody lilies, and perennials without adversely impacting the root zone of the numerous live oaks on the property.
While the wall along the street is gone, the house and new garden still enjoy a feeling of privacy thanks to a dramatic streetside planting of agave (this one is about 7 or 8 feet tall!), ornamental trees, and flowering perennials.
When I visited two years ago, the garden was fairly new and had just endured a very cold winter. Boy, has it filled out since then. Just off the main path, this stone table, with a ‘Sharkskin’ agave in a center pocket, anchors an intimate decomposed-granite patio surrounded by limestone boulders that double as seating and a retaining wall. Bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa) on the left screens the street from view. To the right…
…a sunny spot offers an opportunity to grow vegetables.
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
The front walk, an informal path of decomposed granite, winds past spicy-scented white mistflower, also called shrubby boneset (Ageratina havanensis), and more bamboo muhly.
Near the front porch, a steel riser creates a level terrace, where yellow butterfly chairs offer a comfy spot to enjoy the garden in the shade of a massive live oak. Last time I visited, the understory was planted with Mexican feathergrass. This time Texas sedge (or some type of sedge) has replaced it. If you’d like to see images of the front walk and porch, click for my 2010 post about Ten Eyck’s garden.
Looking right, you see a fig ivy-covered wall and gated entry that leads to the private back garden.
Native paleleaf yucca (Yucca pallida) and agaves add ever-blue color to the understory.
A potted succulent sits atop a limestone plinth near the front door.
Stepping through the metal-grid gate (made of woven McNichols mesh) in the ivy-covered wall, you enter a narrow courtyard garden along the side of the house.
An outdoor fireplace built into the wall—with a steel-edged hearth—anchors one end of the space.
Gray-green metal chairs from Munder Skiles invite elegant relaxation.
A steel pipe set into the wall drips water into a rugged limestone basin designed by Berthold Haas.
A small, rectangular lawn—the only lawn on the entire property—offers a party-mingling space. It’s bordered with a tan gravel path that leads to a guest house/studio in back of the house.
A galvanized metal bistro set supports a potted agave by the back door.
A sunken gravel garden between the house and guest house features a long, narrow trough-pond with a negative edge. Water spills over the sides and into a basin hidden under the gravel; from there it recirculates back into the trough. Two years ago it was unplanted. This time elephant ears (Colocasia) and other water plants add height and drama to one end of the trough.
Looking back from the other end of the sunken garden
More potted succulents adorn the back stairs.
Another inviting table-and-chair set under a possumhaw holly (Ilex decidua) and white American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana var. lactea) offers a lovely spot for enjoying the water feature.
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